March 28th, 2019
For Immediate Release
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Joint Statement on the Liberian DED lawsuit, African Communities Together v. Trump:
Hearing on preliminary injunction and other updates
Washington, DC - This afternoon an expedited hearing for a preliminary injunction on the case African Communities Together v. Trump was heard by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman. The lawsuit challenges the Trump Administration’s termination of Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) for Liberians. DED is a humanitarian immigration program closely related to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which DED beneficiaries, many of whom have resided in the U.S. for over 20 years, previously held.
However, in response to a memorandum from the White House earlier today extending the wind-down period for Liberian DED for an additional 12 months and advancing the termination date to March 31, 2020, the plaintiffs withdrew the motion for a preliminary injunction during today’s hearing and the lawsuit will continue in its normal course.
The lawsuit is brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, and Dechert LLP on behalf of fifteen Liberian immigrants and their family members with DED status, African Communities Together (ACT) and the UndocuBlack Network and was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on March 8, 2019. It challenges President Trump’s March 27, 2018 decision to end DED for Liberians.
Ten attorneys general from California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, led by Attorney General Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts, also filed an amicus brief on March 25, 2019 in support of the suit.
The plaintiffs welcomed the announcement, which will provide temporary relief to as many as 4,000 Liberian DED holders who faced the threat of imminent loss of legal status and deportation. However, they affirmed their commitment to carrying on the legal challenge to termination of DED and advocating for Congress to grant permanent status to DED holders, TPS recipients and DREAM-eligible immigrants.
“Our suspicions and doubts about why the Trump administration ended DED last year have not shifted. The president has repeatedly expressed disgust, contempt and outright prejudice against all immigrants and Black immigrants particularly. Therefore, we will carry on with this suit and are determined to uncover what and how decisions were made to upend the lives of thousands of Liberians across the country.” Patrice Lawrence, Policy and Advocacy Director, UndocuBlack Network
“Despite the welcome news of the extension, there are still serious questions that need to be answered about why the White House terminated the program when and how they did, especially considering some of the statements in their own memo extending the deadline. And we're mindful that this is only a one-year extension- DED is still terminated. It took the concerted pressure from this lawsuit, members of Congress, and a wide range of community advocates to secure this win. We need to keep that pressure up.” Amaha Kassa, Executive Director, African Communities Together.
While we are elated to see the extension of DED for another year; we will continue this fight through every avenue until Liberians are safe. We will see this lawsuit through the end and we will simultaneously fight in Congress to pass a bill, continue to uplift the voices of DED holders in the media and continue to build power on the streets. We are grateful to everyone who joined our call to action, amplified our demands, supported our leadership and believed in our vision. Jonathan Jayes-Green, Co-Founder and Director, UndocuBlack Network